Skills Like This

The film's writer Spencer Berger as Max, in Monty Miranda's directorial debut film "Skills Like This", which opened today exclusively
at the Angelika Film Center in New York.  (Photo: Shadow Distribution)

Nihilist Diaries: I'm Not Superman But I Can Steal Anything (Except Colorado)
By Omar P.L. Moore/   SHARE
Friday, March 20, 2009

In what may be one of the year's most pointless films, "Skills Like This", which opened today exclusively at the Angelika in New York, has about fifteen frantic and outrageous minutes where it is bright, funny and alive, but then as repetition and the banal set in, Monty Miranda's directorial debut film sinks itself into a deep hole.

"Skills Like This" is about Max Solomon (Spencer Berger), a lonely writer in a bland, quiet Colorado town whose writing skills leave a lot to be desired.  In need of love, Max, wearing a biggest Afro a white man could have, impulsively robs a bank in where Lucy (Kerry Knuppe) works.  After experiencing the rush from committing the crime, Max, who falls for Lucy during and after the bank robbery, becomes a criminal over and over again.  At the onset of one heist, a woman character says, "this is arousing."  The thrill of being free to do absolutely anything may be exciting and liberating so as to be a turn-on, but in "Skills" any rousing interest beyond its initial twenty minutes or so, is in guessing when Mr. Miranda's film will end.  "Skills Like This", which won the Audience Award at the 2007 South By Southwest Film Festival, is the first feature film to be produced in Colorado, but hopefully it won't be the last.

Mr. Berger wrote the film and its story and as Max he looks like a cross between both Eric Bogosian and Adrien Brody.  As a character Max is sincerely rendered on the page and has a false confidence, which ironically operates to subvert his ability to be something greater than the resultant person he has become.  He acts as if he were writing his actions in some scenes, particularly in a ridiculous scene near the film's conclusion.  "Skills Like This" plays as an absurdist adventure, with Max's idiosyncratic friends, Tommy (Brian D. Phelan) and Dave (Gabriel Tigerman) along for the ride -- but there's a difference between being absurdist and just plain absurd.

"Skills Like This" is not rated by the Motion Picture Association Of America but contains harsh language, brief sexuality and nudity.  The film's duration is one hour and 28 minutes.  The film opens at the Sunset 5 in Los Angeles on April 3.

Copyright The Popcorn Reel.  2009.  All Rights Reserved.



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